Safe, Reversible, Non-Surgical Male Contraception Coming to a Guy Near You

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The New York Times reports today on “Scientific Advances on Contraceptive for Men.”  Here is an excerpt:

The most studied approach in the United States uses testosterone and progestin hormones, which send the body signals to stop producing sperm. While effective and safe for most men, they have not worked for everyone, and questions about side effects remain.

So scientists are also testing other ways of interrupting sperm production, maturation or mobility. * * *

[One man who participated in a research trial] did, however, like the progestin implant, which caused no side effects. Although it “kind of was a disappointment” that the accompanying testosterone shots did not help him win amateur bicycle races, he said, the implant made him “the talk of the party.”

Men’s reactions, he said, ranged from “ ‘I would do something like that’ to ‘Dude, you’re crazy. How do you know if your sperm count will return? Is there shrinkage in any area, or malfunctioning?’ ”

But “women were just totally excited,” he said. “If I were single, I probably would have been able to use that as a dating thing.”

One of the many important factors in the success of any male contraceptive will be women’s willingness “to trust that their partners are using birth control, as men do now,” the story notes (here).  That makes sense to me.  I’m not sure, but I wonder if eventually one might see demographic or other differences in women’s self-reported levels of trust in their male partner’s use of birth control.  Would a woman demand to see a prospective partner’s “certificates of compliance” with a particular birth control protocol?  From the 1990’s, I remember those wallet-sized cards that one could get, showing the dates of one’s last HIV test, the results and the testing facility.  I suppose something similar could work for male contraceptives.  Hmmm…but then again, from the 1980’s, I remember fake I.D.’s, too.

-Bridget Crawford

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